Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Simple Acts of Kindness

"A Flower in the Wilderness"

Yesterday, while preparing the evening meal at our house, I was struck by the significance of a few simple herbs in contributing to the overall flavor of almost any dish. As I crumbled two little sprigs of freshly picked thyme onto a piece of salmon, I was especially aware of how the aroma of this herb literally filled the entire kitchen. I was also struck by the realization that, in this particular “salmon recipe,”  a few sprigs of crumbled thyme is pretty much the secret ingredient that provides a “mouth watering” flavor to the entire recipe, without which this meal would be bland and non-descript.

Last evening, as I took in the aromatic fragrance of those few, little sprigs of thyme,  I also realized that I was being taught an important spiritual lesson.

As I see it, many people probably think that their simple ordinary lives makes little or no difference in the world. Our everyday routine seems tedious and somewhat boring as we perform the same old tasks from day to day – going to school, showing up for work, shopping for groceries or cooking a meal.  But yesterday as I became aware of the important contribution a few pieces of thyme made to the meal I was preparing, I was also struck by the  significance of the seemingly unimportant aspects of all our everyday lives.

I am reminded of something I read in a recent article from the New York Times:

Everywhere there are tiny, seemingly inconsequential circumstances
that provide meaning to our lives,
everyday chances to be generous and kind.
Spiritual and emotional growth happens in microscopic increments.
The big decisions we make turn out to have much less impact
on life as a whole
than the myriad of small seemingly insignificant ones.

I find great wisdom in this observation. 

The fact is that everything any one of us ever says or does actually has an impact on the entire world because we are all an interwoven, dynamically-interconnected web of relationship.

Years ago when I first started to explore the basic tenets of “quantum science,” I came upon something that scientists refer to as The Butterfly Effect. According to this principle, because everything and everyone are so dynamically interconnected, the flapping of a tiny little butterfly’s wings in Tibet can ultimately contribute to the force of a hurricane that hits the coastline of the United States.

As I see it, each word we speak and every action we take in our everyday lives has a “Butterfly Effect.” Simple acts of everyday kindness multiply exponentially (so do acts of malice). A word of encouragement to a co-worker or fellow student, a smile and a “thank you” to the cashier at the market, a brief visit to a sick neighbor, hardly world-changing deeds, or are they they? These seemingly inconsequential acts of kindness are always extremely significant, adding flavor and beauty to an otherwise bland and sometimes ugly world.

The Buddha taught:

As from a heap of flowers, many garlands and wreaths are made
So by one mortal in this life
there is much good work that can be done.

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